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Apple Research App: How to join an Apple health study

Apple's new Research app is now available -- here's how to sign up for one of the studies.

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Apple

Apple is doubling down on health research this year with the launch of three new health studies focused on hearing, menstruation and fertility and heart health as it relates to physical movement. Apple announced its Research app, which serves as a portal for these studies, back in September and now that app is available for anyone to download. 

Apple is partnering with leading medical schools and health organizations to collect data, with the goal of capturing real-world health information that otherwise wouldn't be available. For the most part, the average person wouldn't participate in any kind of research study unless they are referred by a doctor or sought out a study on their own. By allowing anyone with an iPhone ($699 at Apple) and Apple Watch ($399 at Apple) to join, you cast a wider net.

Read more: Stop Googling your medical symptoms and do this instead

I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the privacy and security of the health info you submit in the Research app. For its part, Apple has said that it will not sell your data and that you can control what kinds of data you send. 

Before you consent to join a study, you'll be given all of the details of what the study entails, how the data is collected and will be used, the background and purpose of the study, the principal investigators leading their study and more. You can stop participating in any of the studies at anytime, and each study will walk you through any relevant consent forms you need to sign. 

Of course, if all of this still has you concerned, don't download the app. Whatever health information that's already stored in the Apple Health app on your iPhone is private, secure and won't be automatically shared with Apple for these studies unless you download the Research app and explicitly give consent to do so.

Apple

The Apple Health studies available now

There are currently three studies that you can sign up for now. I fully expect Apple to add more studies in the coming years.

Apple Hearing Health Study

Analyzes the impact of loud noise on long-term hearing health, using the Noise app on the Apple Watch. The study is conducted in conjunction with the University of Michigan and the World Health Organization. Apple estimates this study will last last for at least two years.

For this study, you'll be asked to fill out surveys and participate in hearing tests using EarPods or AirPods ($169 at Amazon).

Apple Women's Health Study 

Examines how menstrual cycles can screen for conditions like infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), pregnancy, menopause and osteoporosis, using Apple's Cycle Tracking features. This study is being conducted in partnership with The Harvard School of Public Health and National Institutes of Health. Apple estimates this study may last for decades, but will ask you every two years if you want to stay in the study.

During the study, you'll be asked to fill out surveys throughout the year and to share your menstrual history.

Apple Heart & Movement Study 

Tracks the correlation between physical activity and heart health. Specifically, it'll look at how signals like walking pace and flights of stairs climbed relate to quality of life, hospitalizations, falls and other markers of cardiovascular health. This study is being conducted in conjunction with the American Heart Association and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Apple says this study will last for at least five years.

This study will collect the heart rate, ECG and fall detection features that your Apple watch records, if you choose to enable those features. It will also ask you to fill out health surveys.

How to join an Apple health study

1. Make sure your iPhone is running the latest version of iOS (13.2.2) -- you cannot download the app without it.

2. Download the Apple Research app from the App Store.

3. Pick which health studies you want to participate in and follow the prompts on the screen. You'll read through and sign informed consent forms and chose what kind of data from the Apple Health app that you want to share.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.